April showers bring May flowers. They also bring with them more than a few unwanted guests, specifically ticks.
But is the United States really on the verge of a "tick explosion"?
The seriousness of this year's tick season was highlighted. in a Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) earlier this month.
According to the CDC, cases of diseases caused by mosquitoes, ticks and fleas have tripled in the United States since 2004.
More More than 640,000 cases of vector-borne diseases were reported during that time period.
But ticks in particular seem disturbing. Tick-borne diseases accounted for more than 60 percent of those cases.
"We are seeing more tics in more places, and in fact we live in a" more ticks in more places in the world. "The trend, and was supplying, according to the CDC report maybe a week ago, is that in the In the last decade, vector-borne diseases in general and tick-borne diseases have increased specifically, "said Thomas Mather, PhD, director of the Vector Center at the University of Rhode Island. -Borne Disease that is known by the nickname of "tick guy".
However, Mather does not agree that this year is significantly different from other recent seasons, despite the headlines of some media about an upcoming "tick" apocalypse.
"I'm thinking this year will be about average, there's nothing that suggests that I would be taller than normal or lower than normal," Mather said. "It is not that the world has suddenly been dumped … with hundreds of tics more, because the ticks have spread a little so that more people find them," he said.
And the rebound of tick encounters and, consequently, diseases transmitted by ticks, may have more to do with location than an increase in tick populations.
It's no coincidence that the spring ticking season also coincides with more people doing more outdoor activities. So, just as humans are warming up from the winter months … so are ticks.
"There are more tics in more places, and those more places are simply in the same places where people live and play," Mather said.
New diseases discovered
With new locations for ticks, new diseases emerge.
The CDC report indicates that seven new diseases transmitted by ticks were discovered between 2004 and 2016.
That is in addition to perennials, serious conditions caused by ticks, such as Lyme disease.
Diseases transmitted by ticks will vary geographically, making diagnosis and treatment more difficult.
"What happens when you potentially find ticks in new places, have the opportunity to serve as the agent for the spread of germs that are in the animals, basically they are fishing for the germs that may have remained in the wild population," said Mather.
Lyme disease is located in particular areas of the United States. The CDC reports that 95 percent of cases occur within 14 states located in the northeast, such as Maine and Vermont, and around the Great Lakes area in states such as Wisconsin.
Another concern is Powbadan, a rare but serious disease that can cause severe neurological damage and death if left untreated. Approximately 1 in 15 people who contract the disease die from it.
However, there are relatively few cases of this disease, and the CDC reported fewer than 100 cases in the United States in the last decade.
How to avoid ticks
There are several things that people living in tick-borne areas can do to stay safe this season while still enjoying the outdoors.
Janis Reed, PhD, an entomologist at insect control company Mosquito Squad, encourages you to follow these steps:
- Use a repellent that has a DEET of 20 to 30 percent on both the skin and the part top of the clothes.  When hiking, stay at the center of the trail. Avoid walking in tall grbad or shrubs.
- Wear long pants and long sleeves if you have to enter a forest or wooded area.
- Control yourself, your children and pets after going out to these areas, especially the underarm area and hair. Ticks prefer moist and dark places.
It can also help increase the safety of your home against ticks by clearing grbad and tree debris, cutting tall grbades and keeping the deck and yards away from wooded areas.
And remember that ticks, particularly nymphs, can be as small as a poppy seed. Any examination must be exhaustive.
You can also, for a modest investment, infuse your clothes with insect repellent technology through a company like Insect Shield.
For in-depth information and resources on protection against ticks and ticks, Mather recommends consulting TickEncounter. org.
"It can be stung or it can be ticked intelligently," he said.